Determining what you can afford involves working with a local loan officer who will take into consideration your credit score, income, and debt. There are also other factors that may work for you or against you. I am happy to explain the loan prequalification process in more detail and recommend a loan officer if you don’t already have one in mind.
It is not a prerequisite, but it is highly encouraged. There really is no point in looking at homes until you know what you qualify for and what you are comfortable paying.
There is a joke in the real estate world that the best time to buy was ten years ago. That said, there is no time like the present. Put a plan in place and make it happen. Note that there typically is less competition in the winter months and the highest demand in the summer months.
Simply put, you need a Realtor if you want to feel confident and protected as you make one of the biggest purchases of your life. As a Realtor, I’m in the trenches every day, and I will relay everything you need to know so you can make the most informed decision. It’s my goal to get you into your dream home as smoothly as possible.
In most cases, no, the seller pays the buyer's agent's commission. This will vary is when buying a “for sale by owner” property. Usually, your agent can work out some sort of agreement to include your agent's commission to be a part of the transaction to create a win-win for both parties. The seller saves money on commissions and you get the representation you want and deserve.
The answer is no, but it is highly recommended. If you feel confident in your ability to inspect the home yourself, you can. You can even have someone with construction knowledge perform an inspection, but some sort of inspection is highly encouraged. Professional home inspectors are hired to check into many components of the home that you may not be willing to check, for instance, going up into an attic or into a crawlspace.